A rainbow-coalition compendium of anecdotes to swell a patriot’s pride.
CBS news anchor and author Rather (Deadlines and Datelines, 1999, etc.) revisits the files from a long-running television feature in which he and his colleagues produced stories that highlighted how the “American Dream” continues to motivate and sustain “folks” (as Rather calls the little people) today. Just what constitutes that dream is rather loosely defined. In Rather’s eyes, apparently, it involves the textbook ideals of equality and the freedom to pursue one’s own happiness, and it ranks as “one of the most powerful ideas in the history of human achievement.” By way of testimonial, he goes on to profile men and women who have overcome all manner of obstacles by virtue of their faith in the system. One, the Mexican-American son of a murdered narcotics agent, piously declares, “If people don’t dedicate themselves to working in government and working for the public good . . . our freedom and our laws wouldn’t be worth anything.” Another, an Anglo woman who fought neighbors and City Hall for the right to put up signs on her front lawn protesting the Gulf War, observes, “Democracy’s messy. It’s not easy to listen to everybody.” Still another, a Greek immigrant who made his fortune in advanced electronics, likens the feeling he got when, a new citizen, he launched his company in America to the sensation he felt when the Germans left Athens in the closing days of WWII. Platitude follows platitude, with some typically colorless observations from the compiler (“One of the best things about my job is the people I get to meet”). Carefully multicultural, this has the dated feel of one of those “why we fight” anthologies issued to GIs during WWII.
Rather does his job just fine—but what that job is remains something of a mystery.